FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Just How Good is Your Health Insurance?

by JEFF SHER

It’s been difficult to generate a groundswell of public opinion for real change in our deeply flawed health care system because most of the people who have medical insurance believe having insurance is equivalent to having guaranteed access to quality health care.

The insured may have empathy for the nearly 50 million uninsured in this country, but they seem to believe that the problems of the uninsured are not also their own problems.

Consider then the recently released study by a team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School. The researchers found that emergency room (ER) visits increased nearly 18 percent in the 10 years ending in 2004, while the number of hospitals operating ER’s fell 12 percent during the same decade.

The result is that patients wait longer now for treatment in emergency rooms. Waits for all types of treatments increased by 36 percent from 1997 to 2004, the researchers found. Heart attack patients waited eight minutes for treatment in 1997, but by 2004 they were waiting on average 20 minutes. One in four heart attack patients can expect to wait as long as 50 minutes or more before being treated.

This is yet another example of the deteriorating condition of our health care system. The ER problem affects patients whether they have insurance or not, no matter how “good” that insurance is.

And if you are admitted to the hospital, make sure you carefully check the bills the hospital sends you. It has been estimated by experts in the field that up to 80 percent of all hospital bills contain multiple errors. In fact, just checking the bill yourself very likely will not find all the errors.

There is a new and growing layer of the medical bureaucracy composed of billing specialists who will review your hospital bill for you and get paid either by the hour or as a percentage of the savings they generate for you by correcting the errors in the bill. Since hospital stays easily run in excess of $10,000 per day, even an insured patient’s share of a bill can mount up quickly. This is particularly true in the case of the high deductible plans that have become popular in recent years (as employers try to shift costs to employees).

Just add these issues to the growing list of obstacles to obtaining the health care you need, such as insurance company denials of coverage for treatment before the fact, denials of claims for reimbursement after the fact, difficulty in obtaining referrals to the appropriate specialists, not to mention the problems you may have obtaining insurance if you ever become unemployed or self-employed. Let’s put it this way: if you have any kind of chronic problem, or have had even a mildly serious problem in the recent past, you most likely will encounter difficulty obtaining a policy and you very likely will pay very high prices for it if you do get one. And if you have had a serious illness that has any chance of recurring or which studies show has even the slightest chance of rendering you more susceptible to other serious complications in the future (even the distant future), don’t expect to find insurance at all.

Almost everyone knows someone else who has encountered difficulties in obtaining the medical care they need, yet we persist in believing we have the “good” coverage.

Perhaps people who think like this should have their head examined. Except most likely they will find that kind of treatment is not covered by their insurance.

JEFF SHER lives in the Bay Area. He can be reached at: jeffsher@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

Jeff Sher is a journalist specializing in the health care industry. He lives in San Francisco.

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail